Israeli history photo of the week: The gates of J'lem

JPost special feature: A Library of Congress collection of photographs that document Israel before the creation of the state.

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September 8, 2011 10:45
1 minute read.

Damascus Gate B&W_311. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)

The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

The Jerusalem Old City's Damascus Gate, also known as the Nablus Gate (Sha'ar Schem), faces north toward those two cities. It is part of the wall of the Old City built in 1540 during the reign of the Ottoman ruler, Suleiman the Magnificent.

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Archeologists found a Roman gate built by Hadrian in the second century, probably on the foundations of an even earlier gate.

The Crusaders renamed the gate "St. Stephen's Gate."

The gate is adjacent to the Old City's Muslim and Christian quarters.

As the Library of Congress pictures illustrate, the gate was the frequent battleground between the British Mandate forces and the local Arab population.  The pictures were taken in 1920, 1922, and 1938 when the local terrorist gangs actually took control of the Old City.  In October 1938 the British recaptured the city, as the Mandate report below states: 

During the month [October 1938], the arrival of strong military reinforcements brought about an improvement of the security position. The Old City of Jerusalem, which had become the rallying point of a large number of bandits and from which acts of violence, murder and intimidation were being organized and perpetrated freely and with impunity, was fully re-occupied by the troops on the 19th of the month. This was a successful, organized operation of considerable.



More photos can be viewed at http://www.israeldailypicture.com


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